Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN Number)

What is the ITIN?

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a nine-digit number, similar in format to the Social Security Number. It always begins with the number 9. ITINs are issued only to people who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To sum up, a tax id number, also known as the taxpayer identification number is a 9-digit number, which begins with the number "9" and is formatted like an SSN (xxx-xxx-xxx).

ITIN is for tax purposes only. It does not authorize work and cannot be used as an identification number or for any purpose outside the tax system.

Who needs ITIN?

If you must file a U.S. tax return or you are listed on a tax return as a spouse or a dependent and you are not eligible to obtain a valid SSN, you must apply for an ITIN number.

By law, a person cannot have both an SSN and an ITIN number. When completing tax return forms, you should enter the ITIN in the space for SSN. Including your ITIN on the tax return will ensure prompt processing and receipt of refund. You may need to use your ITIN number when opening a bank account.

Generally, dependents (H4 visa, L2 visa, F2 visa) should apply for an ITIN number. TIN number will be required to file joint Tax in USA.

When to apply for the ITIN?

You should apply for your ITIN as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application. It is possible to apply for an ITIN any time during the year; however, if the tax return you attach to ITIN application form W-7 is filed after the return's due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the April 15 deadline to avoid this.

If you meet one of the exceptions listed on the form W-7 (page 3) and do not need to file a tax return, apply for the ITIN as soon as you determine that you are covered by the specific exception.

How to apply for an ITIN?

The application process for ITIN was recently revised. You now need to provide the following documents to apply for an ITIN:

  • Revised application Form W-7.
  • Attach a valid Federal Income Tax Return (unless you qualify for an exception - see page 3 of Form W-7)
    *Remember: Since you will be filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity documents to the address listed in the Form W-7 instructions at:
    Internal Revenue Service
    Austin Service Center
    ITIN Operation
    P.O. Box 149342
    Austin, TX 78714-9342
  • Original or certified proof of identity

What documents are acceptable as proof of Identity and Foreign Status?

The IRS has revised the list of documents acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status. An original and valid passport is the only document acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status.

Remember: If you submit an original valid passport (or a notarized or certified copy of a valid passport), you do not need to submit any other documents from the list below

If you do not provide your passport, you must submit a combination of (at least 2 or more) current and valid documents from the list below. These documents (or their combination) should verify

  • Your identity, i.e., contain your name & photograph
  • Support your claim of foreign status
    • National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth and expiration date)
    • U.S. driver's license
    • Civil birth certificate
    • Foreign driver's license
    • US state identification card
    • Foreign voter's registration card
    • US military identification card
    • Foreign military identification card
    • Visa
    • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
    • Medical records (dependents only)
    • School records (dependents and/or students only)

You can submit copies of original documents. Copies will not be returned. These copies must either be:

  • certified by the issuing agency or official custodian of the original record OR
  • notarized by a US notary public
    If you submit your original documents they will be returned. You need not provide a return envelope for this purpose. If your originals are not returned within 60 days call the IRS at the telephone assistance number. Keep a copy of your application for your records. To be on the safe side, mail your application by insured mail so that you receive a receipt. Avoid using originals if the copies can work.

What are the ways to apply for ITIN?

There are three ways to apply for an ITIN:

  • Apply in person: You can apply for ITIN in person. Carry completed forms and valid documents to any IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in the US.
  • Apply by Mail: Mail Form W-7, your tax return (or other documents required by an exception), and the identification documentation to
    Internal Revenue Service
    Philadelphia Service Center
    ITIN Unit, PO Box 447
    Bensalem, PA 19020
  • Apply through an Acceptance Agent: You can also apply through an Acceptance Agent authorized by the IRS. Acceptance Agents will review your documentation, complete a certificate of accuracy, and forward the certificate and application to the IRS for processing. Some Acceptance Agents may charge a fee.

How and when will you receive your ITIN?

You will not receive a card but an autorization letter from IRS. This is to avoid any similarities and confusion with Social Security Number Card If you qualify for the ITIN and your application is complete, you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number, usually within 4 to 6 weeks. If you have not received any letter from the IRS in that time, you may call the IRS to check the status of your application at the IRS telephone assistance number: 1-800-829-1040. (Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. local time)

Tips

  • Wait for 4 to 6 weeks before calling to enquire about the status of your ITIN application.
  • Write your correct residence address on the W-7 form since both your original documents (if you submit any) and your ITIN number will be mailed to the address you provide. Check if you have included the street address, unit number, and zip code.
  • As soon as you get your ITIN, make copies of it or keep scanned copies on your computer as well. This is an important document and should be protected at all the times.